Halton Hills Forgotten Landmark: Barber Paper Mill – 1854

After a day of showing some houses in Georgetown last weekend to some clients that are moving from Brampton, I went to see the old Barber paper mill that is for sale.  You see I have this investor that is thinking about buying this place but he wanted me to check it out before he came to Ontario.  I’ve known about the abandoned mill for years, I’ve walked, driven and hiked by it many times but this time I was going to really LOOK at it!  You learn a lot when you slow down.  For the first time I noticed the signage that said it was built in 1854 and used for many years.

I’ve been to lots of ruins but this hauntingly beautiful ruin’s history has its roots in the pioneering use of hydroelectric power in North America, its was the first to use long-distance power, as well as its many contributions to almost every aspect of Ontario’s paper industry.

According to http://thebarbermill.com/, this abandoned mill and the adjacent land is slated to be developed by Everlast Group into a hotel and a small community of banquet facilities, art galleries, restaurants, and specialty shops. However, there have been environmental concerns raised about this project and now its for sale.  So that’s why I’m here..LOL.

I think ever since the redevelopment artistic sketch has sat atop a pole near the road bordering the Mill since about 2003; it depicts the plans for a 14-story condo as well as mixed-retail services.  I really do hope that someone can leave a area the way it is….so we can remember the past!

When you come to Georgetown, you will see that the mill is quite an awesome and beautiful structure. I can see why real estate developers would be interested in making it into something grand such as my client.

The Barber brothers bought the property as well as the adjacent foundry in 1837, naming the settlement which was quickly growing nearby ‘Georgetown’ (formerly ‘Hungry Hollow’). The converted wool mill began to use and produce rag paper, but with the growth of the famous Canadian Grand Trunk Railway, it would switch to wood pulp, employing hundreds of workers on its 5 hectare property (that’s almost 12.5 acres!).

From the road I’ve seen that some of the buildings are an intricate network of massive steel beams that hold much of the structure together, but nothing could have prepared me for seeing it up close. Surrounded by the missing floors and crumbling walls is an awesome amount of metal beams, wires, and poles literally holding the place from crumbling in on itself.

After walking around and looking at what has become of these once amazing buildings is not the immanent future, but the recent past of this amazing site.  This place has sat vacant for over two decades and has becoming subject to vandalism, arson, and our Canadian winters.

I know teenagers complain that this is nothing to do in Georgetown but the say the same thing in the city.  It is a shame however that our youth considers hanging out in run down, unsafe and unsanitary buildings as their only out and anyone that has any power in this town should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen. I do think that it’s time to do something for our youth, considering they are our FUTURE, don’t make them want to leave.

I can remember all the bush parties without trespassing I went to when I was younger.  We also went tobogganing, skating , played baseball, and all the other cool things so could do and sure we all hung out and did some crazy things as well, but we created a lot of our own fun without spending lots of money. I think teens can organize themselves and make their voices and views heard without breaking the law, because when you do that there is likely less of a chance they will be heard. I’m all for the youth of this town and all of the other towns in Ontario, because I still can remember, I was one….

The Mill is at the corner of Mill and River in Georgetown On

Categories: Things To See And Do

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2 replies

  1. Very interesting story. Looked for it on Streetview. It’s actually at the corner of River and Maple Street in Georgetown 🙂

  2. I’m a teenager of this town and I have been here my whole life. Not trying to be rude but he fact you BLAME US because of all the paint inside of the building isn’t fair. Yes, most of us painted it but it’s art to us! You think we hate it and want it gone? You’re so wrong and you don’t listen to your own kids. That place is our favourite place to be. We can be ourselves and have fun. Yes for you it’s rude but we call the mill home and that won’t change.

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